Get serious in Salem

Written by Baker City Herald Editorial Board March 01, 2013 08:56 am

The effort to prevent mass shootings in the U.S. is about as serious as a matter of public policy can get.

We’re disappointed, then, by some of the recent maneuvers at the state Capitol, where the Legislature has been in session for almost a month and, ostensibly, also takes the issue seriously.

Although we don’t question the sincerity of any lawmakers we do wonder, in some cases, about their judgment and whether they’re efficiently representing their constituents.

Consider House Bill 3200, which was introduced on Feb. 22.

This legislation, promoted by Ceasefire Oregon, is, and we’re being charitable, constitutionally suspect.

The bill, besides prohibiting Oregonians from owning more than one so-called “assault weapon” and more than three magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition, would require owners of such guns and magazines to “allow an inspector from the (State Police) to inspect the storage” of the guns and magazines.

The word “warrant” is conspicuously absent.

We’re pretty sure there are plenty of civil rights lawyers who would eagerly take on as a client someone aggrieved by that clause in HB 3200.

The truly insipid aspect of the legislation, though, is that even its chief sponsor, Rep. Mitch Greenlick, a Democrat from Portland, disavows portions of it, including that outlandish requirement for involuntary inspections of private property.

“In its current form, it’s a pretty flawed bill,” Greenlick told The Oregonian.

Yet that current form is the same form that Greenlick put his name on, along with seven other representatives and seven state senators who are listed as sponsors.

Greenlick further confuses the situation by going on to say, regarding HB 3200: “It’s not where they (most legislators) want to go and it’s not where I think we’re going to go. But it’s where we should be going.”

In other words, Greenlick likes the bill, except for that pesky “pretty flawed” part.

Introducing a bill such as HB 3200 accomplishes nothing except to inflame people who fear that even potentially reasonable legislation, such as mandatory background checks, is merely the first step toward government confiscation of all guns.

We welcome a robust debate about guns, both in Oregon and nationwide. Greenlick said that’s what he wants, too, and we take him at his word.

But we, and he, will likely continue to be frustrated if the public discourse is distracted by patently hopeless legislation such as HB 3200.